Posts tagged head games

Big Book Delusion

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
– from the ‘Big Book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 24

The above was written in 1939, at a time when we knew little about alcohol addiction. Sure, we knew how it manifested itself, and we knew the consequences of addiction – but we did not know the true nature or the cause of alcohol addiction. Because of our limited understanding, all that could be done at the time to address alcoholism was to treat the symptoms. There were only theories as to what caused alcohol addiction. At that time, it was a widely held belief that alcohol abuse was a character flaw, and that those who abused alcohol were simply exhibiting their weak moral constitution. This was perfect for AA, as they took advantage of his belief, which thy exploited and perpetuated, just as they do today.

AA fills in the blanks of addiction ignorance much like religion fills in the blanks of scientific ignorance. With religion, “God did it” is the default answer to that which we do not (yet) understand. It is fallacious logic at its finest, and is in a nutshell saying, “I don’t know, therefore I know.” With AA, “spiritual weakness” is the default answer. Why does Mary D. insist on drinking when it continues to ruin her life? Simple. Because Mary is “constitutionally incapable” of being honest. This quote from the ‘Big Book’ states that “for reasons yet obscure”, some people have an inability to stop drinking, yet the book turns around and states that a “spiritual awakening” or “an entire psychic change” will relieve a person of their compulsion. In other words, they are stating that they don’t know why some people can’t stop drinking, but the reason they can’t stop is because they are spiritually weak — “I don’t know, therefore I know.” It is just one of the many contradictions which is AA.

In 1939 we did not know the cause of addiction, or why some people could control their drinking, while others could not. This is one thing the ‘Big Book’ had right, and at the time the it was written, a ‘spiritual deficiency’ was as good of a hypothesis as any. Closer to the actual cause was the allergy theory set forth in ‘The Doctor’s Opinion’. The doctor was wrong, but at least he was on the right track, and it was as good of a place as any to start to find an answer. Fast forward seventy-five years, and much of the ignorance we had about the causes of alcoholism have been answered. Any answers we have found in that time, and any scientific advancement made in the understanding of addiction, has been discovered in spite of AAs fighting it at every turn. It is difficult to advance when the primary group available to help alcoholics is only interested in the advancement of their fellowship, and imposing their a set of arcane religious beliefs.

We now have an understanding of the physiological effects alcohol has on the brain, including how alcohol affects the brain’s pleasure pathways, which were not even discovered until twenty years after the ‘Big Book’ was written. We also know, for example, how alcohol affects the production of dopamine for alcoholics, as opposed to non-alcoholics; and it is this understanding that has led to breakthroughs in the treatment of alcoholism. Knowing the cause allows us to treat the cause, and not just the symptoms, of a disease. One thing we know for certain is that alcoholism is not a spiritual malady, and it is not an allergy. Not that there are not psychological consequences to addiction. Obviously, there are; and it is obvious, as well, that psychological problems often serve as a catalyst, and as a reason a person begins drinking in the first place — but the addiction itself is now understood. It is not obscure.

Drugs like Campral and Naltrexone, which have shown to be effective for many in curbing or eliminating cravings, work on these pathways that have been affected by alcohol abuse; and for most, prolonged abstinence will allow these pathways to revert back to their normal function. This happens regardless of whether a person is working religious steps. The “psychic change” that is referred to in the ‘Big Book’, and is so often repeated by AAs, is simply a consequence of abstinence. A person whose brain produces and transmits the proper amount of dopamine and serotonin will feel better, and any intervention by a faith healer, hypnotherapist or any other pseudoscientific practice, is simply a placebo. AAs believe in the placebo because their feelings of well-being correlates with their AA attendance. It is really no different of a mindset as with Native American tribes who once upon a time practiced “rain dances”, which were proven effective by their anecdotal experiences of seeing rain after these dance occurred. These people were not crazy, but were simply working out of ignorance of weather patterns. These dances may still be a part of Native American tradition, but they are no longer practiced for the purposes of actually producing rain. Why? Because the science is in, and we no know rain dances don’t work. That is what science does. It provides us with an improved understanding of things, so we can advance to the next step.

AAs do not, will not, discuss or educate its recruits on the science of addiction, and it will not update its practices to work in tandem with current scientific research. Regardless of what actual science shows, they hold true to the idea that their addictions are a consequence of moral weakness, for which the answer lies in moral re-armament. This is the nature of religion. The world is flat if the good book says it is flat, and nothing can be done to change this belief. A person in AA who fails, is believed to have failed because they did not work the program properly, not because of any physiological problem in their brain. The person who fails, and has been told over and over that “insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again, and expecting the same results,” is told to start once again at step one, regardless of how many times they may have failed before. Real treatment does not enter into the picture, and is more often than not discouraged if brought up to fellow AAs. Get right with God, and you’ll get right with your quit. This is the answer. the only answer. Science be damned.

humanspirit talks about Al-Anon

Humanspirit just posted this in the comments, but I want to turn it into a front page post, because it is an important perspective that’s been missing from this blog. Thank you, humanspirit. –ftg

My name is humanspirit, and I’m not an alcoholic. But I am appalled at the way the AA 12-Step program is allowed to stand in the way of anyone’s attempts at get real help for alcoholics or addicts. It is disgraceful that AA, with its worse than useless program and cod religion, has managed to establish itself as the only organization to help alcoholics or addicts.

So, not being an alcoholic, why do I feel so passionately about this? It’s because the man that I love descended so deeply into chronic alcohol addiction that he could hardly function. Because he knew he was dying, and would die if he carried on much longer and was crying out for help – any help – which wasn’t forthcoming despite our best efforts. It’s a long and very sad story. I moved out of our mutual home because there was no way I could cope with it and could still carry on going to work, etc. He wasn’t violent; he wasn’t nasty – just hopelessly addicted. The sight of him, sitting in the garden in the early morning light, clinging to his bottle of wine in a silent, confused daze, day in, day out, absolutely broke my heart. Continue reading humanspirit talks about Al-Anon

You Never Win

LUNATICS ANONYMOUS: I have been sober for two years today. You’re not sober, you’re just abstinent. OK, I’m just abstinent, not sober and I haven’t had a drink for two years. You might be abstinent but, you’re not sober. You’re just a dry drunk. OK, I’m just a sober dry drunk. No, you’re not sober. OK, I’m just an abstinent dry drunk. You might be dry but, you don’t have sobriety. I thought I was sober. You might be sober but, you don’t have good sobriety. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. There is abstinent sobriety but, you have bad sobriety. What, I have bad sobriety? Yes, because you are not in recovery. I thought I was in recovery whereas I haven’t had a drink in two years. You’re not in recovery, you are only around recovery. You never recover. I thought that because I’m in recovery that I was sober. No, you never recover, you’re just abstinent. But, I attend A.A. every day. That doesn’t matter because, you are only around A.A., and you’re not in A.A. But, I’m in the program. Yes, you’re in the program but, you’re not working a good program. OK, I’m only around A.A., working a bad program and not sober. But, I am working the 12 steps. No, you only think you are working the steps. I thought if I was abstinent and attending A.A. that I was in recovery. No, that’s your problem, you only thought you were sober. I thought that I had good sobriety as I was attending A.A. That’s another problem you have. You’re thinking, when you were told to sit down, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth. But, I can’t talk with the cotton in my mouth. That’s good, because you don’t know what you are talking about, just sit there for 90 days and don’t talk or think. But, I think I am sober. No, you’re just not drinking, you don’t have quality sobriety. What, there is good sobriety and bad sobriety and now quality sobriety? Yes there is and you don’t have either or. You’re just a dry drunk. How can I be drunk if I’m sober? I told you that you’re not sober, you’re just not drinking. OK. F**K this bullshit, I think I’ll go the bar and have a few drinks.

Re-posted with permission from Lunatics Anonymous

Tell Us Your Story

One common theme I have seen with former AAs is that there is often a moment of clarity when they finally agree with that voice in their head that something was amiss, and that the program that they had signed up for – a quit drinking fellowship – was indeed much more. Sometimes it is a single incident, like the actions of a sponsor, or something said by another member that was particularly absurd, that gave their head a shake. With others, it was simply the totality of it all, and they knew that if they were subjected to one more aphorism, or one more trite slogan, they felt like their heads might explode.

What was your moment? When did you finally have enough? Was it a particular event, or was it a process. I would be interested to hear from those who have left AA. A reverse drunkalog, if you will. What caused you leave, and what difference has it made for you.

Denial

By Dan –

Denial (the technique):

The abusive manipulation of the subject wherein both agreement to and denial of an accusation confirm the accusation. This methodological technique of breaking down the subject’s resistance to control and manipulation was borrowed by Freud from Nietzsche’s claim to understand the mind’s of those long dead for the purposes of undermining their professed beliefs. In psychoanalysis, any statement by the patient is interpreted to confirm the analyst’s preconceived diagnosis, invariably based on the Freud’s (evil and preposterous) insistence that all neuroses, that is, behavioral problems, derive, ipso facto, from suppressed childhood sexual lust for the opposite parent. The idea is, “I hear what you’re saying, but know what you’re unconscious thoughts are.” In other words, the subject is “in denial.” There could be no greater abuse of the notion of self-hood than convincing the gullible that their own thoughts are lies, for no other purpose than to suit the preconceived notions of the therapist or sponsor in proselytizing the fanatical, quasi-religious cult of AA. Continue reading Denial

Quote of the Day

“My Higher Power today is not a God in the Judeo/Christian sense but more of an amalgamation of belief systems. There is a little Buddhism in Her, a bit of the Native American Great Spirit and a lot of my son in Her.  Sometimes I call Her HP…sometimes Great Spirit and sometimes just ‘Dave’.”

Kim Manlove, treatment center volunteer and AA advocate

Battle of Delusions

Among our regular readers of this blog is a fundamentalist Christian, John, with an interest in the heresy of AA and the 12-steps. He is a nice guy, and though he does not comment in the public forum, I have received regular correspondence from him since we started a little less than a year ago. I don’t doubt that after reading this blog for a year, he believes that we are headed toward eternal damnation, and after reading his blog, I feel he is off the charts, batshit crazy. That’s OK, because we still like each other, and we have an understanding – and though we agree on few things, we have a common disdain for Alcoholics Anonymous – albeit for different reasons. Continue reading Battle of Delusions

Quote of the Day

“I’ve heard this argument before and it rubs me the wrong way each time. No one has to go to AA/NA, they can refuse the drug court and go to jail instead if their [sic] that against having to say the word “God”. They should be happy their getting a second chance at all. You would never get a secular program passed in the courts. The religious rights of someone that was caught with a handfull of crack is that last thing on anyones mind.”

jbit, explaining in a conversation about whether or not compelling a person to attend AA breaks the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and that a person being coerced into AA really does have a choice: It’s either go to AA, or go jail. Therefore, it is not forced.

Note: Notice jbit writes “you would never get a secular program passed in the courts”. Secular? I thought AA was secular. This slip of the tongue happens all the time from a group that claims to be non-religious.

Mr. SponsorPants

A little while ago, AnnaZed turned me on to Mr. Sponsorpants, and we’ve been following him with some measured indulgence and ambivalence. Charmed, I guess. He is charming. And holycannoli can he write. Yeah, OK, I have a little bloggish crush on Mr. Sponsorpants. He breaks my fucking heart is what he does.

 He breaks my heart because he has the kind of moral sensibility (in John Gardner’s sense of the term) that allows him to really home in on human complexity, and gets it so well that he can make it funny and brilliant. And then, you know what he does with that? He reels it in, slays it, guts it, and leaves you with a nice clean slogan. It’s a crime.

 Mostly what breaks my heart is that, within the small scope that AA allows him, he can use this gift of moral observation only to run circles around those less gifted (here’s part two and part three of this story) of his fellow members. With great power comes great responsibility, and he is squandering it to play head games with himself and others.

 So, AZ reached her threshold with Mr. Sponsorpants when she read this recent post, and I agree with her: enough’s enough. He responds to a question from someone who is genuinely trying to get it right: Continue reading Mr. SponsorPants

My Short AA Experience

My Short AA Experience

by Samuel Ross 

I’m twenty-five years old and I have been an alcoholic and a drug addict for about five years.  I say I have been rather than I am because I do not believe these addictions are a disease that anyone must live with for the entirety of their life, regardless of what Alcoholics Anonymous indoctrinates its followers with.  When I felt I had hit bottom about five weeks ago my initial plan of action for my recovery was to join the local AA group.  I did this with the most positive and open-minded intentions I could have had.

I made it very clear at the first meeting I attended that I was an agnostic would not do the God thing and I was told by other members not to worry about it and that the God thing is not necessary.  All that was required was that I had a desire to stop drinking.  I continued to attend twice a week, which is the amount of meetings held in this town each week, for about one month.  I was told by other members that my progress was going great and that I was doing the right things in my life.  I just felt I was living my life without my addictions and I was happy because I was doing more productive things and feeling great.  I was enjoying learning a new way of living my life. Continue reading My Short AA Experience